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The Almost Sisters

by Joshilyn Jackson

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson X
The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2017, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2018, 352 pages

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SharonM

Fabulous Fun & Quirky
Set in a small southern town in Alabama, 'The Almost Sisters' is a timely contemporary piece about friendships, family secrets and bi-racial relationships.

The narrator Leia Birch Briggs is a successful writer/artist in the graphic novel industry who, after discovering some life changing news, decides that a visit to her grandmother in Birchville is long overdue. Things do not go quite as planned as her grandmother, suffering from a degenerative disease, has been displaying some unusually outrageous behaviour. Instead of announcing that she will be continuing the Birch's family lineage Leia finds herself taking care of her grandmother.

I loved the fun, quirkiness of Joshilyn Jackson's writing style, and depictions of her characters, all of whom have real presence, warm endearing qualities, and were totally believable. I especially loved the multi-sisterly connections, in particular the endearing relationship between the towns oldest residents, Leia's grandmother Miss Birchie and her lifelong friend and companion, Wattie.

Leia's relationships with her half-sister Rachel and thirteen year old niece Lavender are equally as compelling, as is the relationship between Violence and Violet, characters from Leia's comic novel whom she uses to mirror and work through, to an extent, her own disappointments and frustrations that life heaps on her.

'The Almost Sisters' is an intriguing, story with a touch of a southern gothic feel, about the prejudices and complexities of bi-racial families, and relationships in the modern day 'Second South'; of multi-sisterhood bonds; and witnessing the heartbreaking slow deterioration and loss of a loved one to a degenerative disease. Even though it raises some serious issues it is gently done without becoming sentimental or preachy, and It is ultimately an uplifting story of family loyalty, love and forgiveness.

This is my first encounter with Joshilyn Jackson and one which felt destined to receive a 4 star rating until the ending which didn't quite work for me. However, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and am now looking forward to reading her earlier novels, in particular 'God's In Alabama'.

Highly recommended and would make a perfect book group choice and summer read.

Memorable scenes: Leia's drunken one night stand with 'African American Batman' from the Comic Convention...fabulously hilarious!
Mary W. (Savannah, GA)

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
I really enjoyed this book because, as a Georgia girl, I identified with so much of the "Southernese" displayed in the book. Even today, the conception of biracial children causes somewhat of a stir in conventional Methodist and Baptist families. The characters act like many of my college friends and my daughter's sorority friends with the same prejudices and inherited privileges. Leia comes up with many solutions that I only wish I would have thought of at her age and in her situations!
Marcia C. (Jeffersonville, PA)

The Almost Sisters
Once again Joshilyn Jackson has successfully created a world filled with the fascinatingly quirky characters of a small Southern town. There's Leia, a comics creator, who hooks up with Batman at a comics convention. The other members of her family: her grandmother Miss Birchie, who is doing her best to hide her dementia diagnosis from everyone; her niece Lavender,who is 13 going on 30; her step sister Rachel, whose marriage is dissolving and who is the opposite of Leia in every way. Throw in some busybody town folk, some loyal friends, and a deeply hidden family secret, and you have all the ingredients for a great read.
Joshilyn Jackson's storytelling is magical. Right from the beginning, she picked me up and plopped me right down into the middle of Leia's life in Birchville, Alabama with all of its goodness and all of its warts. The Almost Sisters is a story of family loyalty, love, and forgiveness. If you enjoy Sarah Addison Allen, give Joshilyn Jackson a try. The Almost Sisters is a great place to start!
Gail B

Sisterhood
Almost Sisters gives us all sorts of "sister" connections -- Narrator Leia and her half-sister Rachel and grandmother Birchie and her companion Wattie are obvious. Violence and Violet are characters in Leia's comic book; Leia and her niece Lavendar perhaps sisters under the skin; and less obvious, ladies joining together to support or ruin the Birch family in a small Alabama town. An intriguing look into the bonds of sisterhood, as well as modern day life and dynamics in what the author calls the Second South. Also interesting was my introduction to Alzheimer-related "Lewy bodies" and the world of superpower comics. Can't wait to read Jackson's earlier novel, gods in Alabama.
Bea C. (Liberty Lake, WA)

Quirky and fun
Joshilyn Jackson's books are a joy to read with her intelligent writing. This book is full of quirky family members, like most of us have, and follows a free spirited graphic book writer and artist's life. The references to all the super hero comic book characters were lost on me and may be hard for some to read around, but her handling of her grandmother's Lewy body sickness and black prejudice in a small southern town are great and written with much humor.
Jill F. (Blackwood, NJ)

Another Hit!
In the interest of full disclosure I have to say that I love Joshilyn Jackson books! I've read every one. My only complaint is that she doesn't write faster. If you haven't read her previous novels, get to it! Both "Gods in Alabama," and "The Girl Who Stopped Swimming" grabbed me and didn't let go. I couldn't wait to finish and I didn't want it to end!
That being said, this story didn't quite have the same effect. Almost, but not quite. Maybe, there was one too many story lines that grabbed my interest? I wanted to read more about Leia and Batman, delve into the relationship between Jake and Rachel. Learn more about the town and it's inhabitants, Leia's and Rachel's parents and their childhood.

Still and all a very good read that I would definitely recommend. Hopefully this is just the beginning, I need more!
Peggy C. (Wyckoff, NJ)

It's All About Family
Almost Sisters was an entertaining and thought provoking read that dealt with many issues about family and relationships in general. Set in the South, the story line also presented racial and class concerns that allowed the reader to appreciate the characters for who they were and who they became. In addition, the power of standing up to what is "wrong" and trying to do the right thing regardless of the price gave a new definition to the meaning of family and in particular being a sister. I am glad to have had the opportunity to read this book.
Dorinne D. (Wickenburg, AZ)

A Southern Tale
From Birchie and Wattie to Rachel and Leia, all the main characters in this book had "almost sister" relationships. A very readable tale of life in the South as it has been lived and is still lived today. Leia's vision of the "Second South" where her unborn son could exist without prejudice is an interesting sidelight of the story.

Beyond the Book:
  Female Comic Book Writers

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